Craig J. Clark: October 2008 Archives

"How would you like to see one of the most stunning sights on Earth?"

That was the first thing the explorer said to me when he greeted me at the door to his Las Vegas hotel room. I knew right away that he was an explorer because he was wearing khakis and a pith helmet. My escort agency hadn't told me that he would be one of those clients, but I was used to guys who liked to dress up, so I thought nothing of it. So what if this fella wanted to play the great explorer? I've had stranger johns.

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Invasion going precisely as planned and on schedule. Entire population of planet now enslaved and subjugated to the will of the robots. All able-bodied slaves have been put to work in factories making robots for next invasion wave. All non-able-bodied slaves -- including the very young and the elderly -- have been put to death. Once the planet's resources have been used up, all surviving slaves will be put to death. Cannot estimate how long that will be at this time.

Will transmit again in six Earth days. End transmission.


Six weeks. That's how long the robot had been on Earth. (The robot week was only six days long because the Robot God, having no need of it, had never rested.) Six weeks was also how long it had been embedded in the sidewalk in front of the city hall of the small Midwestern town where it had landed. This, it must be said, had not been part of the plan.

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It all started -- as things often do among my group of friends -- with a movie. There were about a dozen of us who were all big horror buffs and we tried to see every horror film that came to town regardless of its age, quality or reputation. As a result we saw a lot of garbage -- especially when it came to first-run releases -- but we were also surprised by the occasional creaky classic that crept up on us and genuinely creeped us out. Such was the case when the Val Lewton film festival came to town.

There were some of us who were skeptical -- Mark, for one, couldn't imagine being frightened by any film that had reached what he called "retirement age" -- but we all attended the first night's double feature of Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie anyway. The first was well known to us, even if it was only from the '80s remake, but none of us had ever heard of the second (although the program informed us that both were directed by the same man, Jacques Tourneur). Thanks to the low budgets they had to work with, Lewton and Tourneur had to rely more on atmosphere and the power of suggestion to build tension rather than fancy special effects, but we got plenty caught up in the stories anyway. Well, most of us did.

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You tumble out of bed feeling grubby, as you do every morning when there has been a full moon the night before. You jump in the shower and wash off the dried blood that remains on your hands and face and the mud that is caked on your feet. It must have rained overnight, but you have no memory of it. If you had known about it in advance, you would have thought to put down newspapers.

Feeling fully human once again, you flip on the TV to find out if your nocturnal activities were newsworthy enough to make the morning show. Animal attacks have become so frequent of late that the local news hardly ever mentions them anymore unless the victim is human. While you wait for the news segment at the top of the hour, you get to work scrubbing the muddy paw prints out of the living room rug. Such a bother and an easily preventable one at that.

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It was while the great actress was taking a tour of the facility that the truth came out. The truth did not make her particularly happy.

"What do you mean the theater booked us for matinee performances?" she asked -- nay, demanded -- imperiously. "You know very well that I don't do matinees."

It was a Monday night when the theater was dark, so the only people present were the actress, her manager, her booking agent, her personal assistant, her director, her co-star (and current lover) and her understudy. Representing the theater were the owner and his secretary, who naturally felt overwhelmed by the actress's entourage.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Craig J. Clark category from October 2008.

Craig J. Clark: September 2008 is the previous archive.

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